Yesterday, by a one-vote margin, California became the first state legislature to grant equal marriage rights. The move was widely viewed as Pyrrhic, since most people knew Gov. Ahnold - who claims to be moderate but is beholden to far-right extremists - would veto the legislation. And he is. Apparently Republicans have no problem with judicial activists as long as those activists have Pass and Buck stamped on their foreheads. The question is - will the media (which loves to stir up hatred against gays - all that violence and prejudice is "sexy" coverage) use this veto to try to flag up his subterannean popularity levels? Will Ahnold manage to convince the public to support his plan to gerrymander California's Congressional and legislative district? What kind of a message will be sent if he suddenly becomes popular again because of gay-hatred?
The under-the-radar battle in California involves various constitutional amendments, several of which would repeal the state's domestic partnership plan and likely ban any legal contracts for gays, including wills. The media and the GOP will use the marriage vote to claim a "groundswell" or "momentum" for these amendments, and many Democrats will go along in the gay-blame-game. But these amendments have been in the works for months, if not longer, and were likely to make the ballot no matter what. Will the public have enough information to learn just how sweeping these amendments are? That depends on how much money progressive forces have, because the anti-gay groups will have many millions of dollars to burn. If you want to try to help protect any sliver of legal rights gays have in California, please go here.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts...
Attorney General Reilly certified the first step of an amendment that has to pass about 25% of the legislature in 2006 and again in 2008, then goes to the ballot. The amendment will bar civil unions and equal marriage rights. This is a more extreme version of the amendment that passed the legislature in 2004 and has to pass again on September 14. That amendment will bar gay marriage and switch the marriages to civil unions. Equality groups are preparing for the worst and have tried their best to tell the public that the amendment is far from dead. Ironically, certification of the 2008 amendment may be the only thing that kills the 2006 amendment, since there are around a half-dozen legislators who oppose all benefits for gay couples and would only support the civil unions legislation if they felt they had no other option. Around eight or nine legislators who supported the amendment last year have said they will not do so this time around. Will that be enough? If you want to help out, please go to Massequality.